091. COVID-19 Impact on Spina Bifida

Authors: Shelly Sharma

On March 13, 2020, the governor closed schools in Illinois due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and these schools remained closed for the duration of the 2020-2021 school year. Closures led to decreased socialization and cancelled physical activities for children and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Given these restrictions, we hypothesized that there was an increase in body mass index (BMI) in spina bifida patients cared for at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, which may have an impact on functional status.Methods: A retrospective chart review of all patients with various spina bifida diagnoses (open and closed) seen at our institution, who were seen in 2019 and 2021, is reported. Body mass index (BMI) and functional lesion level were included.
A total of 134 patient records were retrospectively reviewed. Overall, BMI averages significantly increased (p=0.0005) from 2019 to 2021. Both male and female BMI averages significantly increased (p=0.02, p=0.01, respectively). When stratified by age, those aged 6-10, 11-15, and 16-20 showed increased BMI averages (p=0.0003, p=0.04, p=0.02, respectively), while those aged 2-5 did not (p=0.65). Out of 64 patients with myelomeningocele, there was no significant difference in average BMI (p=0.21). Out of 117 children with a sacral or lumbar lesion level, the majority (90.6%) were stable in functional level.
Patients with various spina bifida diagnoses had a significant increase in BMI during the COVID-19 pandemic, without a significant impact on functional status. Due to the challenges of caring for chronically ill patients with special needs, BMI should be closely monitored to prevent other associated complications.